We learned yesterday that voice actress Miyu Matsuki passed away from pneumonia last week at the age of 38. It’s a bit irresponsible to reduce someone with a résumé like hers down to a single role, but for me she left her greatest mark as the youthful, often-indiscreet homeroom teacher Yoshinoya in Hidamari Sketch. I can’t imagine anyone else bringing the character to life with quite the same irrepressible energy that made such an impression over four seasons and a handful of OVAs.
There’s this weird, conflicted feeling I get whenever I hear that a performer whose work I enjoy has suddenly died. Along with the wish that they hadn’t gone so soon is a little voice in the back of my head that tells me how callous it is to want someone to stay alive solely so they can continue to toil for my entertainment. It goes without saying, but that’s the only way I really knew Matsuki, as a disembodied voice on the other side of a television or computer screen. There’s a world of difference between that and the shock and grief of the people who have actually worked with her.
At the same time, I think Matsuki’s work was, like any other form of artistic performance, in part an expression of who she herself was, and it seems fair to wish that she had more time to do that through her voice acting. One should always be wary of reading too far into any similarities between actors and their characters, but I will note that, like Yoshinoya, Matsuki never wed and had more than enough vitality for someone half her age.
Matsuki’s final post to her blog reads, in part, “When I get over this illness, I’ll get married this time for real!” One of the last roles I heard Matsuki in before she died was Chimo, the cheerful proprietor of a local favorite okonomiyaki restaurant in Tamayura. In the most recent of the current ongoing series of OVAs, Chimo announces that she’s getting engaged. Matsuki is no longer with us to see her wedding.
Rest in peace, Ms. Matsuki. You will be missed.